With all apologies to the movie of the same name, I felt like it was the only title that fit the blind. A question I frequently get asked by people I work with and from readers is what made me want to be in this business. How did I get started? I think no matter what I would have ended up doing something in the music business. It was just inevitable because of some of the people I grew up with and the parts of the industry I was exposed to in my formative years. The rest of it, that first introduction to the world of Hollywood and its good and bad and very ugly side probably would not have happened except for that summer. A few of the people that I met that summer are still in my life. To say they have had a good career is an understatement. At the time I don’t think anyone predicted it. With what I saw that summer, I’m not sure how any of them are even alive after all these years. Maybe it was just crazy to me because I had never seen anything like it. The just over the topness of it all. Like so many of my personal stories, this one came about because of an introduction.

I was not going to do much that summer. No real plans. My parents had plans for me. They wanted me to get a job. I didn’t have a problem with working during the summer, but the job they wanted me to do was going to be a lot of work out in the hot sun for very little pay. They didn’t want to finance me all summer. I saw their point then, and I see it now and I would do it, but I was hoping for something that would be at least a little more fun. Hello fun. Actually those were not the words that came out of the phone, but it was my old friend, sometime double dater and what she says is a too frequent visitor to this spot who called and said someone was looking for a production assistant on a movie and she thought of me and the next thing you know I was working on a movie. My first one. Away from home. This was going to be fun. It was fun. I had no problem being the go get guy and filling orders and running around town in a non-air conditioned van they gave me simply because it didn’t have air conditioning. It was one of those jobs where even though I literally worked 15 hours a day and never stopped running around that it never felt like work. It was something entirely new and I couldn’t get enough. The first week or ten days I was there it was only crew. There were no actors there, or at least none that I saw. This was all pre-production. Just a bunch of people trying to make everything smoother when the shooting started. All of the planning and preparation that went into those days was crazy. What was more crazy was that even though they worked that hard to make sure everything ran smoothly, nothing really did. It was not the fault of the crew or the director or anyone really. The problem was that with very few exceptions, the movie starred nothing but teens or those just out of their teens. I remember the first day when the lead portions of the cast arrived. I knew who the two males leads were and one of them I had watched a million times in a few of his movies. Even though he was still young, I think still just barely in his teens, his career was in a nosedive. Some bad decisions on his part and horrible decisions by his people had brought him to this set at this time. Lets call him FT. He looked like a mess. He looked old. Teenagers are not supposed to look old. They are not supposed to look like someone who is a decade older. OK sure, throw Lindsay Lohan’s name out there or some person you knew in high school who smoked meth every day, but this was neither of those. Despite looking old he had an attitude. I guess a couple of failures were being bolstered by the bottle he had with him nearly all of the time. The only time he set the bottle down was to do lines of coke. I’m pretty sure that whatever the budget of this movie was, a good portion of it went to coke. To this day I have never seen a group of people do that much coke in my life. I have seen individuals do more, but as a collective whole, it is not even close.

I don’t know if it was good or bad that my double dating friend showed up the day I met this person for the first time. Since that day she has been in and out of my life and is that constant in the background that ties parts of my life together. My friend was there because she took a day off from that thing she does. Back then she was still struggling, but doing so with a guy who shows up in an epic blind item that is still one of my favorites. My adventure with him was still a few years down the road.

When I saw this person for the first time, it took my breath away. Whenever I see her now or talk to her, if I think about that first day, it still happens. I remember two things. The way she spoke because she was trying out a southern accent and these massive gold hoop earrings she was wearing and would wear for most of the movie. We were about the same age. Total polar opposites. From the time we first said hello though we have always been friends. Lets call her MW.

The third member of this little acting troupe we will meet tomorrow.

When I first saw TS I have to say I was a little intimidated. Not that he was imposing or legendary because he wasn’t at that time, but he was just a force of nature. He and FT were best buddies. They had worked together for most of the past several years and had an easy camaraderie from all that time spent together. Literally they had spent as much time together as some of the Hobbit cast later and in even tighter spaces. The only time they were not together, TS was working with some of FT’s buddies. I found out later that their working relationship was defined by the amount of drugs and booze they did together. When they first worked together they were small timers. A year of working 20 hour days together though got them to the big time. I don’t think I ever saw one of them go longer than 15-20 minutes without ingesting something or drinking something. This went on from the time they arrived on set until they departed. Later, when I would see them after the working day, I discovered they kept up that pace until they passed out where they were. During that summer that included several pools from which they had to be fished out. There were four or five times they fell asleep on front lawns of homes and the owners would call the police who would call the producer who would wake up at 3am and fetch whichever one of them was there. Several arrests for public intoxication or disturbing the peace were tossed or just removed from the record for a few hundred bucks. They usually had a driver take them places, but there were times when they would get behind the wheel of a car. The only serious damage either of them did to a car was TS who was trying to drive. He was in a parking lot and it had light posts with cement bottoms about three feet high for support. TS kept slamming his car into them. He was so drunk, he could not figure out how to get the car in reverse and would slam into the concrete which would move the car slightly and he would turn the wheel and repeat the process. Finally, with one last hit to the light post he was free, but the light post was finished and landed on the hood of the car. TS was lucky he was not killed. Instead he just left the car in the parking lot for someone else to deal with.

These guys were the stars. There were a couple of older actors who had a nice career who were also working on the movie but they were just background noise. These guys came in and just were bulldozers. This was a big budget movie, they were stars and they were on location on a set and were going to party.

Brought into all of this was MW. This was her first movie. Ever. She was not a shy wall flower and had traveled the world modeling, but models doing a few lines of coke while they chain smoke and complain about going to another go see with a photographer who gets handsy was not the same. Neither of the actors knew her before getting on set and when she rebuffed their initial advances they didn’t care because they had hundreds of women who would gladly have sex with them. This is no exaggeration. It was like a buffet with these guys. They would go in any club or restaurant or even a grocery store and there would be choices for them. It was crazy. I had seen rock stars and groupies, but the groupies were going to the concert to see the rock stars. This was different. This was them just going out in public and instantly attracting women.

They did like MW though. They liked her a lot because she was not a shy wallflower. She would stay up with them and party with them. Not to their extent because no one could do that. This was a few years of tolerance they had established. They just kept going and going.

Tomorrow I will talk about the first time I went out with them.

Prior to the cast showing up on the set of the movie, I had been working really long days and then mainly just crashed and went to sleep. Sleep was elusive and after the cast showed up sleep was an even harder commodity to come by. Not only was I still running around being a gofer but because some of the shoots were dragging into the wee hours of the morning, I was lucky to be getting two or three hours of sleep a night. On nights when I did have off and MW had time off we hung out together. It was fun and easy going and it is pretty much the same as it was then. It was because of my connection to MW that I got involved in that crazy trip through Eastern Europe looking for the missing director.

One day before an entire day off the next day she told me that FT and TS were bored with what they had been doing every night. I’m not sure how they could possibly have been bored. It was a rare night when there was not some type of police involvement or payments from petty cash to pay for their damage.

I knew there was a place they had not been yet. At the time it was probably the best time in the city. It still might be the best time in the city. They were all for it and I got roped into driving. I borrowed a van from the set. It was a cargo van. Usually it was filled with equipment that had to be carried. When I think back to me driving that particular van I’m pretty sure only Teamsters were allowed to do so and I keep waiting for them to file a grievance against the production for something that happened so long ago. Never mind. I digress. The thing is there was only one other chair and MW was sitting in that. TS and FT were in the back and decided what they wanted to do was to give up trying to stay in one place and let the van’s momentum slam them around the bare metal back. I wasn’t driving particular fast and I’m sure they exaggerated their actions to some point but they spent the 20 or so minutes in the back basically slamming so hard against the sides and rear doors that I thought they would end up dismembered or thrown from the back. They seemed to love it. Because the floor was covered in grease and dirt, they looked horrible by the time they stumbled out of the van.

As usual there was a very long line at the door to the club. As we walked down the line past all the people waiting the two guys suddenly figured out that the club was and is a gay club. At the time it was much more laid back and conservative than now. This was before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and was the go to spot for gay men and women from town who served in the military. Their short hair usually gave them away. Every few months the military police would infiltrate the place and gather evidence. Then they would wait outside and arrest anyone they had spotted doing something inside that violated same sex interactions.

The owner of the club was really sick that year. He was HIV+ and eventually died of AIDS related complications. He was a great guy and had a vision and an ability to promote and get people in the doors that I used to copy all of the time when I did that kind of thing.

I don’t know what FT and TS expected but they seemed to really like it and I remember that even though FT was the bigger star, the guys in the club were all over TS because of a role he had played the year before. They loved him and I got to see first hand how he could hold sway over a group of people and have them in the palm of his hand. It is why he is an A+ lister today. FT, was a star, but he didn’t have that certain something to really get him to the next level. Plus he was an a-hole. He knew he was a star and acted like it and even though he was a couple of years removed from his biggest days, he still had that I am better than everyone else kind of attitude. The drugs and booze just made it worse.

FT spent most of his time hitting on women there and deciding which one would get the pleasure of going back to his hotel with him. He treated all of them like crap but most of them never called him out on it. TS on the other hand was spending a ton of money buying drinks and goodwill and was really respectful when one of the managers asked him to please stop using coke out in the open. So, TS popped Ecstasy every 20-30 minutes instead. My guess is he took about 15 total during the night. I’m not sure how he lived through his big drug years. When we all left, FT had two women with him and they all rolled around in the back of the van. TS spent the ride crouched behind the seat talking to MW and me while I was driving and telling a long and involved story about losing his virginity. I have heard him tell a variation of the story a few times, but it is always good and is definitely worthy of a blind someday. I remember that I dropped them back at their hotel about the time the sun came up. They all went to their hotel rooms and I crawled in the back of the van and crashed for what seemed like 30 seconds but was probably a couple of hours when there was a knock on the door of the van. It was one of the women that had hooked up with FT. She was wearing a t-shirt and nothing else and said I needed to get to his room quickly because there had been an accident which I will talk about in tomorrow’s installment.

All I wanted to do was sleep in to the next year when I decided to crash in the back of the van. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see a half naked woman. Not that I was opposed to that but she wasn’t coming to fulfill some strange fetish of having sex on the cold steel floor of a greasy van. Instead she knocked out of panic. When she said there had been an accident I don’t know why she decided to come all the way down the hotel, out through the lobby and come searching for me when she could have just made a phone call to get help, but she did. When we made our way through the lobby there was no one there. No one at the front desk. When we finally made our way to FT’s room the first thing I saw was a glass coffee table that had shattered. The only thing that remained was the metal base that had supported the thick glass. There was also a great deal of blood scattered throughout the broken shards and a bag which still held quite a lot of what looked like coke. Plenty more was mixed with the glass on the floor. I also noticed the carpet was stained with blood and it was going to be another charge added to the growing number for this movie.

FT was on the bed. Naked. Bloody from the waist down. From the bathroom the other woman came out. She was naked except for a pair of panties. Her hair was matted with blood. When she turned around I could see why. She had a huge gash on the back of her head. I was surprised she was actually moving around. Apparently the woman with the gash on her head was a former or current cheerleader or something and FT wanted to have her stand on his shoulders. He did so, but at some point lost his balance and hit the table or fell into it and ended up going through it with his left leg. When he lost his balance the woman fell six feet and hit her head on the side of the table.

The reason the other woman came to get me was because the former cheerleader had been unconscious when she left and FT screamed at her to go get help. He hadn’t asked for me specifically but she thought because I had been responsible for them earlier in the night that I was the person to ask for help. It is because of this that I think MW asked for my help later in life a few different times. Even TS has asked me to help. With him it is generally watching his pets or something like that, but hey, it is still helping. FT said he was fine. He didn’t look like it though. There were chunks of glass sticking out of his leg. Since I knew he wouldn’t go to a doctor I told him to take a shower and I would get some bandages and antiseptic. Nothing like wandering the aisles of a grocery store just before dawn looking for first aid supplies. When I got back, the woman who came out to the van was using tweezers to pull out glass from FT while FT did lines to help with the pain. Apparently the former cheerleader decided she had some pain issues too. Lots of them judging by how much coke they did in the 20-30 minutes I was there.

After judging that no one was going to die, and if someone did, that I had not left fingerprints anywhere they would remain, I left. Two days later I was back on set and except for a slight limp which was actually written into the movie at some point, FT seemed normal. That was the only time I went out with FT that summer. TS and MW and I went out a few more times during filming, but compared to that night things were pretty tame. FT ended up in rehab not too long after the movie. Oh, and the movie was a huge bomb, but I love it and that is not just because I am in it a few times when they needed some warm bodies.

ENTY’S FRIEND: Lisa Loeb (raised in Texas where "Johnny Be Good" was filmed in Texas)
MOVIE: "Johnny Be Good"
FT: Anthony Michael Hall (Farmer Ted in "Sixteen Candles")
MW: Uma Thurman (Mia Wallace in "Pulp Fiction") (gold hoop earrings)
TS: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark in "Ironman")
Movie TS did the year before: "Less Than Zero"
Club: Bonham Exchange in Austin, TX (the owner Hap Veltman died in 1988)
FT and TS did a season of SNL together
Were in movies "Weird Science" and "Hail Caesar"
Godfather of his son Indio Falconer Downey is close friend Anthony Michael Hall

UPDATED: April 24, 2023